KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Umno women today urged the state government to reconsider its plan to issue a special temporary pass to foreigners in the state as it could encourage an influx of immigrants.
Their chief Jainab Ahmad Ayid said although the intention behind the move may be good, the government had failed to consider its impact on Sabah’s political, social and economic situation.
Jainab told a press conference that she had brought up the issue of stateless people with the federal government when she was Sabah community development and consumer affairs minister.
“However, we were reminded that the interests of the locals were more important at the time and told to do more studies on the issue.
“Then, the elections came, and we know what happened next. As concerned citizens, we implore the federal government and the state government to respect the constitution and take care of the welfare of Sabahans first,” she said.
Sabah Umno women’s assistant treasurer Maizatul Akmam Alwi reminded the government that the report on the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah never mentioned anything about a special pass for foreigners to resolve the problem.
Therefore, she said the best thing to do was to send the foreigners back to their home countries.
She believed that the state government’s proposal to issue the special pass to foreigners, said to number about 600,000, would only exacerbate the illegal immigrant problem.
“Giving them this document would affect Sabah socially and economically because of intermarriages, crime, social problems and many factors.
“It will not give the state any revenue. Instead, we will have to spend money issuing the passes and monitoring the holders. Even the RM120 every three years is not enough to cover the costs,” she said.
More importantly, Maizatul said the foreigners would worsen the state’s unemployment rate as Sabahans would have to compete with these new workers for jobs.
She said the special pass holders should be made to obtain work permits similar to Malaysians from the peninsula and Sarawak.
“However, the best thing to do is to defer this proposed pass until a more thorough study is completed.
“The government should focus on keeping Sabah safe and fulfil its election promises instead,” she said.
Last month, Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the government would introduce the Pass Sementara Sabah (Sabah Temporary Pass) to replace three documents – the IMM13, kad burung burung and census certificates – issued to some 600,000 foreigners in the state.
Applicants will be charged RM120 per card, renewable every three years.
Opposition parties in the state have warned that the pass would only encourage illegal immigrants to come to Sabah instead of solving the problem in the long run.
However, proponents of the plan believe it could help weed out forged or wrongly issued IMM13, burung-burung and the census certificates with the additional biometric, photo and fingerprint security features.